Album Reviews

Kevin Eubanks

East West Time Line

Artist:     Kevin Eubanks

Album:     East West Time Line

Label:     Mack Avenue Records

Release Date:     04.07.2017

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Since his 18-year tenure as the guitarist and music director of The Tonight Show Band, which ended in 2010, Philadelphia-born guitarist, composer Kevin Eubanks has been busy releasing projects and building an inventive catalog. Known for being a musician who can play across all genres, Eubanks brings this ability to his 2017 album, East West Time Line. As the name implies, Eubanks uses two separate quartets on the album, one based on the East Coast and the other from the West Coast. He plays to the fact that each coast has their own unique sound and splits the ten tunes between the two groups.

The East Coast group starts the project with a fast-paced swing selection, “Time Line.” Eubanks and trumpeter Nicholas Payton handle the riff-based melody. Eubanks facility on the guitar is displayed right from the start of his solo with his fluid single lines that build to a combination of octaves and small chords that are quickly moved around the neck. Part of his unique sound comes from his distinctive fingerstyle approach to the instrument (he forgoes the traditional pick), this also gives that warm percussive “Wes” sound when he plays octaves and chords. Dave Holland is a rock on this tune, his pulse is absolutely in the center, and grounds the rhythm section as Eubanks and drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts dance all around. Payton’s solo is melodic and full of color and interaction with the band.

The West Coast team starts with Duke Ellington’s “Take the Coltrane” done in a clave pulsed funk/groove feel. Eubanks lays down the ostinato figure in which the melody and solos are played over. With Mino Cinelu on percussion and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums, saxophonist Bill Pierce deliverers an exciting solo. Eubanks is funky as ever, he plays his solo with just Cinelu and Smitty accompanying him, going between chordal figures and single lines in a fluid musical manner.

East West Time Line covers many styles and the wonderful playing brings this project into the “something special” arena. The music clearly sounds like a group of friends getting together and playing in the spirit of friendship. Highly recommended.

—Sylvannia Garutch

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